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Fukushima Earthquake Haiku Translations

posted Nov 3, 2012, 11:28 PM by Michael Dylan Welch
It’s been my privilege for many years to work with Emiko Miyashita to translate haiku and other poetry from Japanese to English. The summer 2012 issue of Modern Haiku featured twenty-five new haiku we translated together. You can read our translations of Nagase Tōgo’s “Fukushima” poems on the Translations page. The poems were half of the fifty poems that won the 2011 Kadokawa Award in Japan—one of Japan’s most prestigious awards, and apparently its most remunerative (the prize comes with ¥300,000, or about $3,700). These poems, of course, were written in response to the 11 March 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and nuclear disaster, which centered on Fukushima, Japan. A Japanese government agency confirmed 15,870 deaths, 6,114 injured, and 2,814 people missing in twenty prefectures. In addition, 129,225 buildings totally collapsed, with a further 254,204 buildings partially collapsed, and another 691,766 buildings partially damaged. As a survivor, Nagase Tōgo commemorates his experience of this tragic event with a moving and personal set of haiku, which I was honoured to help translate.